Divorce proceedings are an emotional prospect with child custody being one of the more emotional issues. Children are often caught in the middle and don’t always have a voice in the proceedings or outcome.
A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) plays an important role for children, or in some cases a mentally incompetent individual, that may be involved in the court system.
Responsibilities of a Guardian ad Litem
A GAL is a lawyer or other professional appointed to impartially represent the specific needs of a child or children throughout a court proceeding, such as in a divorce or child abuse case. A GAL is appointed by the court when a judge feels that the need to protect their interests are high.
A Guardian ad Litem will independently investigate the facts of the case and evaluate the perspective of the child, but may or may not honor the child’s wishes in their recommendations. Throughout the process, a GAL will build a relationship with their charge, meeting with him or her regularly.
This person is the advocate for the child during the court proceedings and will make recommendations to the judge based on their findings regarding parenting time or responsibilities. Their main purpose is to promote the best interest of the child or children throughout the court process.
While the court isn’t required to honor the suggestions of the GAL, a judge will strongly consider the recommendations to ensure the best outcome for the child.